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TN Mom to EPA: Enforce Limits on Air Pollution; Kids' Health at Stake

Nashville mother Zozan Noman (right) testified at an EPA hearing in Washington. She opposes rolling back the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. (Moms Clean Air Force)
Nashville mother Zozan Noman (right) testified at an EPA hearing in Washington. She opposes rolling back the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. (Moms Clean Air Force)
March 28, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Nashville mother of two young girls is weighing in on an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to weaken rules that regulate mercury and other toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were put into place in 2012, but the EPA now says it's too expensive for energy companies to comply with them.

Zozan Noman traveled to Washington with a group of moms from across the country to testify at the agency's only public hearing on reversing the rules.

She's concerned about the health effects of mercury pollution on women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive.

"Within the last 10 months, I have had two miscarriages and cannot figure out why,”
Noman states. “As a mother and a wife who would love to conceive again, I would have to say that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are extremely important to me, as well as life-saving for adults."

Mercury from power plants pollutes the air and seeps into rivers and streams, where it ends up in marine life.

Pregnant women in particular face serious risks consuming fish, as studies have shown exposure to mercury in the womb can harm a developing brain and nervous system.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation recently warned of elevated mercury levels in fish in East Fork Stones River in Rutherford County.

Until the MATS rule, there was no unified set of federal laws designed to cap emissions from power plants.

The EPA itself previously estimated the standards would reduce mercury emissions from the plants by 90 percent, while also shrinking emissions of arsenic and other pollutants.

Noman says she's witnessed firsthand the consequences of poor air quality on children, including a nephew who has asthma.

"Probably the most devastating thing for me to witness was a child gasping for breath,” she relates. “And it was difficult, of course, to get a toddler to use an asthma machine for more than five minutes."

Previous polls have found that more than 70 percent of Americans support keeping the emissions standards in place.

The EPA is taking public comments about the proposal to end them online, until April 17.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN